Rooney: Players are hurting

Wayne Rooney has spoken of the hurt the squad is feeling after England exited at the World Cup group stage for the first time since 1958.

Wayne Rooney says the England players are hurting after they were knocked out of the World Cup
Wayne Rooney says the England players are hurting after they were knocked out of the World Cup

The Three Lions' elimination was confirmed on Friday after Costa Rica surprisingly beat Group D favourites Italy in Recife.

The result means England have nothing but pride to play for when they take on Los Ticos in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, with the team jetting home straight after the game.

"Obviously we are hurting," Rooney said. "We are really disappointed to be out of the tournament.

"I am sure you can imagine it is quite tough and will be a long few days for us, but we have to pick ourselves up for this game on Tuesday.

"We will go out there fighting, show our pride. But overall we are disappointed and you know it is not a great feeling to go out of the tournament after two games so we want to try and restore some of our pride back."

Rooney says his first World Cup goal against Uruguay was no consolation - "this team is much bigger than Wayne Rooney is" - and is determined as ever to succeed.

"I am really proud to play for my country," he said. "I never want to pull out of squads, I always turn up and play for England when I am called upon.

"I have no desire whatsoever to stop doing that unless I am told to. I will play for England until I am not selected."

Joe Hart sat alongside Rooney at the press conference in Rio de Janeiro, with the England goalkeeper calling on his team-mates to lift the supporters who travelled more than 5,000 miles to South America for the tournament by beating Costa Rica on Tuesday.

"Going out is hard to take," England's number one said. "I suppose it is the lowest point of my career. This is really cruel, it's gutting.

"It's an empty feeling right now, but we have a game to get something out of this trip.

"We owe it to the amazing fans who have travelled to support us and we owe it to ourselves as proud Englishmen."

England had never before lost their opening two World Cup matches and Rooney believes they were always going to struggle after losing in Manaus.

"You can't lose your first game at a World Cup," he said. "It's really tough to recover from.

"If we hadn't won it maybe we would still be in. That's the biggest lesson."

The Manchester United striker is confident England will recover from the early exit.

"The three best young players in the Premier League are Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling," Rooney said.

"They have had outstanding seasons, they have progressed so quickly and they have made the step up to international level. That is something to be excited about.

"And hopefully there will be more coming through."

Like Hart after the Uruguay defeat, Rooney threw his support behind under-fire manager Roy Hodgson.

"Well, he has put a great enthusiasm in the team, a great set of young players, exciting players in place," he said.

"Make no doubt about it, Roy is the man to take us forward. We appreciate what he has done for us.

"He has, in my opinion, changed the way we have played over the last couple of years and I know the results have been disappointing in the last two games, but as a team we can feel we are getting better.

"I feel with the young lads in the squad, this will help them and hopefully in the future this will make us a better team."

The likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are expected to quit international football after this tournament, with the latter's retirement leaving the captaincy free.

Asked how he would react if offered the armband, Rooney said: "Steven is our captain and until anything changes I can't really answer the question.

"Steven is a fantastic player, a fantastic leader and he has been for many years and we respect him 100 per cent. He is a great leader for us."